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Decatur becomes candidate city through UNICEF USA’s Child Friendly Cities Initiative

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Decatur becomes candidate city through UNICEF USA’s Child Friendly Cities Initiative

FILE PHOTO: Rob Hancharick lifts his daughter Aida, 6, in the air during the 3-day Amplify Decatur Music Festival main event on the downtown Decatur Square, Saturday, April 23, 2022. Photo by Dean Hesse.

This story has been updated.

Decatur, GA — The city of Decatur has announced it achieved candidate city status through UNICEF’s Child Friendly Cities Initiative (CFCI). On Friday, Dec. 1, the city will officially launch its Local Action Plan for Youth.

The plan outlines five priorities for centering youth voice and improving child well-being in Decatur. The implementation process will begin for the priorities outlined in the plan, according to a press release.

Decatur is one of six cities participating in the Child Friendly Cities Initiative pilot program, aiming to be recognized as one of the first child-friendly cities in the country. The leadership team is made up of 28 high school students who have worked to create a local action plan for youth with various goals and ideas to implement.

The Decatur City Commission adopted the local action plan on June 5. Through the CFCI Framework for Action, Decatur, along with community partners City Schools of Decatur, Decatur Education Foundation, and Decatur Housing Authority, Decatur Youth Council and the Teen Leadership Team, identified five key priorities and action steps to make an impact in the Decatur community.

“Decatur’s achievement of Candidate City status with UNICEF USA’s Child Friendly Cities Initiative is evidence of the progress we are making to shift how we engage our young people,” Mayor Patti Garrett said. “From the Decatur Youth Council to the Child Friendly Cities Teen Leadership Team to youth representation on the Environmental Sustainability Board, we are proud to further expand youth voice and youth participation in our local government and excited to move this work forward as Decatur pursues Child Friendly City status.”

Here are the five priority areas and goals:

– Increased trust with law enforcement: Organizing a police engagement event with community members including young people and exploring best practices as it relates to training on working with young people.

– Become a more equitable and inclusive city: Hosting a Black, Indigenous and people of color career fair, spirit week in the schools, and planning an international night out.

– Mental health and awareness: Improving mental health resources outside of school.

– Become a more environmentally conscious city: Implementing a city composting program.

– Improving public spaces: Planning for a new inclusive playground and a children’s festival.

In pursuit of recognition as a Child Friendly City, government officials and community leaders in Decatur along with pilot cohort cities across the country conduct a situation analysis of child well-being in each city. Based on these findings, the communities implement an action plan that prioritizes the best interests of children and youth within their local policies.

“We are incredibly proud of the city of Decatur for further demonstrating its dedication toward becoming a UNICEF Child Friendly City by launching its Local Action Plan which will focus on safety and inclusion, children’s participation, equitable social services, safe living environments, and play and leisure,” said Tracy Nájera, vice president of U.S. programs at UNICEF USA. “In partnership with the city of Decatur, we are committed to ensuring that every child has the right to grow up in a safe and secure community where they are respected and their voices are heard.”

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